Understanding Types of Wall Paint Finishes: A Comprehensive Guide

types of wall paint finishes

When it comes to interior house painting, the finish of the paint can dramatically affect the overall look and feel of a room. Selecting the right type of wall paint finish is crucial for achieving the desired ambiance and functionality. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the various types of wall paint finishes so you can make an informed choice for your space.

Paint Finish: Durability and Aesthetics

When we talk about the look and longevity of paint, two terms often come into play: finish and sheen. While they might sound similar and are often used interchangeably, they refer to different aspects of the paint.

  • Paint Finish: This term usually describes the overall texture and appearance once the paint has dried. It can range from totally flat, offering no shine, to highly glossy, providing a significant shine. The finish you choose can affect the way colors appear and how easy it will be to maintain the painted surface.
  • Paint Sheen: Sheen, on the other hand, specifically refers to how much light the paint reflects. It’s an indicator of glossiness. The sheen level can alter the perceived color of the wall and has a direct impact on how durable the paint will be.

Now, here’s a key point: the shinier the paint, the more durable it is.

A higher sheen means that the surface is more sealed and less porous, which in turn means it’s less susceptible to moisture and easier to clean. This is why glossier finishes are often recommended for high-traffic areas or rooms with higher levels of humidity, such as kitchens and bathrooms.

On the flip side, shinier paints will highlight every little imperfection on the wall. That’s why a perfect balance between the aesthetic you desire and the practicality you need is essential. A matte finish might hide those blemishes and give a sophisticated look, but it won’t stand up to heavy cleaning or moisture.

As you move up the sheen scale to eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and finally to gloss, you gain durability at the expense of concealing power.

Now, let’s take a look at the different types of wall paint finishes.

Matte Finish: Subtle Elegance

A matte finish, often referred to as a flat finish, is known for its non-reflective quality. It’s a great option for hiding imperfections on walls, as it does an excellent job of absorbing light, rather than reflecting it. This finish is ideal for low-traffic areas like adult bedrooms and dining rooms, where its lack of sheen and depth of color can create a sophisticated look.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that matte finishes are not as durable as other options. They can be more susceptible to damage and might require more frequent touch-ups, especially in spaces frequented by kids or pets.

Eggshell Finish: A Hint of Sheen

The eggshell finish strikes a balance between matte and gloss, offering a slight luster reminiscent of an eggshell. This finish is more durable than matte and is easier to clean, making it a good choice for moderate-traffic areas like living rooms.

Its slightly reflective nature helps in brightening up spaces, while still providing good coverage for wall imperfections. The subtle elegance of eggshell makes it a popular choice for those looking for a finish that is not too shiny but still practical for maintenance.

Satin Finish: Versatile and Practical

Satin finishes offer a pearl-like sheen, making them more reflective than eggshell. This finish is highly versatile and works well in almost any room, including kitchens, bathrooms, and children’s rooms. It stands up well to cleaning, making it an ideal choice for walls that may need regular wiping down.

While satin is more durable than matte and eggshell, it does have a tendency to show application flaws, like roller or brush strokes, more easily. It’s important to apply this type of finish carefully to achieve the best result.

Semi-Gloss Finish: Durability and Shine

Semi-gloss finishes are known for their noticeable shine. They are highly durable and moisture-resistant, which makes them perfect for areas with high humidity, like bathrooms and kitchens, as well as high-traffic areas such as hallways.

This finish is easy to clean and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. However, its reflective quality means it can highlight imperfections on walls, so proper surface preparation and the right application techniques are key.

Gloss Finish: Maximum Reflectivity

Gloss finishes are the most reflective and durable of all the types of wall paint finishes. Often used for trim and furniture rather than walls, they can make a bold statement when applied to walls. They are extremely easy to clean and are ideal for areas that see a lot of action or moisture.

Because of their high shine, gloss finishes are not typically used for entire rooms as they can create a very intense look and highlight every imperfection on the wall surface.

Types of Wall Paint Finishes: A Summary

Here’s a handy table summarizing the different types of wall paint finishes. You can quickly refer to this table whenever you need to choose the right finish for your living space.

Finish Type Sheen Level Durability Best Used In Maintenance Ideal For
Matte Low Low Adult Bedrooms, Dining Rooms More frequent touch-ups Hiding wall imperfections
Eggshell Low-Medium Moderate Living Rooms, Hallways Easier to clean than matte Balance between practicality and aesthetics
Satin Medium High Kitchens, Bathrooms, Kids’ Rooms Easy to clean, withstands washing Versatile use, better durability
Semi-Gloss High Very High Kitchens, Bathrooms, Trim Easy to clean, moisture-resistant Areas with high humidity
Gloss Very High Very High Trim, Furniture Extremely easy to clean Bold, durable statement


Choosing the right type of wall paint finish can have a significant impact on the aesthetics and functionality of your room. From the understated elegance of matte to the durable shine of gloss, each finish has its unique benefits. Consider the room’s use, the condition of the walls, and your personal style preferences when making your decision. With the right finish, you can transform your space into a beautiful and lasting environment.

If you’re looking to start a painting project and need professional help, consider reaching out to a local expert. Highfill Painting offers a range of painting services and can provide the guidance you need to achieve the perfect finish for your home.

Contact us for a free estimate on your next project.

About Highfill Painting

Highfill Painting, a cornerstone of the local community, offers a comprehensive range of painting services designed to beautify and protect your space. With years of expertise, our family-owned business combines traditional values with modern techniques to deliver unparalleled results. Whether you're looking to refresh your home's interior, protect your exterior against the elements, or give your commercial space a new lease on life, our team is dedicated to exceeding your expectations.